Finally, An Award For The Gcc Board

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Congratulations to Gila Community College’s governing board for winning the Arizona Press Club’s Brick Wall Award.

The award recognizes those public officials who work hard thwarting the public’s right to know.

But really, the GCC board should share the honor with Eastern Arizona College, which releases dubious budget documents, fails to quantify anything, and refuses to provide board members with financial statements they can understand — or that anyone can understand.

We hope that these two institutions will at some point realize they work for the public, that they spend tax dollars every day, and that hiding information is not in anyone’s best interest.

It’s unfortunate that our local community college is subject to these overlords who don’t seem to care what our citizens think. We wish they would respond — but the unanswered e-mails and telephone calls keep piling up.

It begs the question — what are these institutions hiding?

We work hard to make sure our readers have the best, most up-to-date information as quickly as possible. But trying to protract information from EAC requires funneling Freedom of Information Act requests through its lawyer. GCC has said it wants all requests by mail.

In this electronic age, this tortoise-paced access to information is unacceptable.

And still, fundamental questions remain unanswered. Why did GCC’s 2010 budget list $2 million in reserves if that money didn’t exist? And why was an incorrect budget published as a legal notice?

How much money will GCC lose from its decline in enrollment?

Soon, the board will discuss next year’s budget. But we’re still trying to figure out this year’s.

The best way out of this mess is to change the law that requires GCC to contract with another college for accreditation.

Board member Tom Loeffler, along with GCC’s senior dean and board chairman, will sit on a task force with state Sen. Sylvia Allen to move GCC to independence.

This group seems like the best shot this county’s had in a while to run our own college. We need to succeed because, without independence, we’ll just keep running into brick walls.

Don’t forget to vote today

The outcome of today’s voting on a temporary 1 percent sales tax increase, will not only affect residents’ wallets, but hundreds of education, health and human services and public safety programs.

While we understand times are tough and many residents do not want to pay the government any more than they have to, a “no” vote could have dire consequences on the state.

According to the Department of Public Safety, which is tasked with keeping state highways safe, if Proposition 100 does not pass, “simply put” public safety in Arizona could be devastated.

DPS states with decreased funding, response times would rise. Recently, over a three-day period in early May, DPS responded to eight fatality collisions throughout the state. These collisions, along with those with serious injuries and property damage, require a quick response by highway patrol officers. A “no” vote would increase collision response times and decrease service levels, said Robert Halliday, director of the Arizona DPS.

At Payson’s Rim Guidance Center, which provides prevention programs, crisis services, mental health counseling and substance abuse programs for children, adolescents, adults and families, a “no” vote would further reduce funding and possibly cut programs.

On the education front, passage of Proposition 100 would raise approximately $1 billion annually for schools during the tax’s three-year life span. However, failure of the proposition would, “trigger a contingency budget that will make up the $1 billion shortfall largely by cutting already reduced funding for K-12, community colleges, and universities,” according to a joint statement from a dozen community college and university leaders.

We understand that even if Proposition 100 passes, there will still be cuts because the state’s budget deficit is so large. However, without its passage, 13,000 Arizona jobs would be lost, as well as $442 million in federal matching funds, according to researchers at the Economic and Business Research Center at the University of Arizona.

When heading to the polls today, remember that while a “no” vote reduces spending, it also reduces services that we all rely on.

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